Tsitsi Ella Jaji

Associate Professor of English

313 Allen Building
Campus Box: 
Box 90014
(919) 684-2741
Office Hours: 
Tuesdays 1-3 pm and by appointment (please email to arrange)

Tsitsi Jaji teaches courses on African American, African and Caribbean expressive cultures and the exchanges throughout the global black world. Her research often focuses on representations of sound, music and listening, and engages feminist methods and theory.Her first book, Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music and Pan-African Solidarity accounts for how and why African American music and literature circulated in Ghana, Senegal, and South Africa and contributed so profoundly to African notions of solidarity in the 20th century. She is currently at work on two new scholarly book projects. The first, Cassava Westerns: Refiguring the American Frontier Myth in Global Black Imaginaries, examines the way writers, filmmakers and musicians of Africa and the Black Diaspora have critically engaged with tropes and mythologies of the U.S. West. Her article "Cassava Westerns: Ways of Watching Abderrahmane Sissako" appears in Black Camera (Fall 2014). The second project, Classic Black: Art Songs of the Black Atlanticanalyzes the literary commentary that composers of color have performed through setting poetry to music. A brief blogpost about this project can be found on the Penn Press website. Prior to coming to Duke, she taught at University of Pennsylvania, and holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Cornell University (2009) with work in English, French, and Spanish. Jaji has conducted fieldwork throughout Southern and West Africa, with generous support from the TIAA-CREF Ruth Sims Hamilton Fellowship, and has been a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, a Society for the Humanities (Cornell) Mellon Graduate Fellow, a Penn Humanities Forum Junior Faculty Fellow and the Mary I. Bunting Institute Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She also holds a B. Music in piano performance from Oberlin Conservatory, and still finds making music an important part of her life on and off campus.  Selected Publications : “Cassava Westerns: Theorizing the Pleasures of Playing the Outlaw in Africa” in The Western in the Global South. Eds. Maryellen Higgins, Dayna Oscherwitz, Rita Keresztesi, 24-41. New York & London: Routledge, 2015.“Music and Modernism in Africa.” In The Modernist World. Eds. Allana Lindgren and Stephen Ross, 197-205. New York & London: Routledge, 2015.“Symbiopsychotaxiplasticity: Some Takes on William Greaves.” Coauthor, Franklin D. Cason, Jr. Cultural Studies 28.4 (March 2014), 574-593.  “Art Song Poetics: Performing Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Setting of Paul L. Dunbar’s ‘A Corn Song’.” J19: Journal of Nineteenth Century Americanists, 1.1 (Spring 2013). “Can You Hear Africa Roar? StoryTime and the Digital Publishing Innovations of Ivor Hartmann and Emmanuel Sigauke.” Journal of Commonwealth and Post-colonial Studies (Spring 2013), 221-39.  “Re-Collecting the Musical Politics of John and Nokutela Dube.” in Safundi13.3-4 (September 2012), 213-229.  “Sound Effects: Synaesthesia as Purposeful Distortion in Keorapetse Kgositsile’s Poetry,” Comparative Literature Studies 46:1 (Spring ): 287-310, 2009. “Prying Death’s Door Open: Mourning the Living-Dead in Maryse Condé’s Moi, Tituba sorcière…Noire de Salem." in Come Weep With Me:loss and mourning in the writings of Caribbean women writers. Ed. Joyce Harte, 56-73. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007.Carnaval, a poetry chapbook, is included in Seven New Generation African Poets (APBF/Slapering Hol Press, 2014). Selected poems can be found on the Zimbabwe page for Poetry International and in Black Renaissance Noire, The Boston Review, Bitter Oleander, Runes Review, InTensions, Madison Review, Apogee, ElevenEleven. and the Center for Book Arts Broadside Poetry Series.


  • Ph.D. 2009, Cornell University

Jaji, TE. Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music, and Pan-African Solidarity. Oxford University Press, January 10, 2014.